Wednesday, August 29, 2018


According to NASA Earth Observatory, the Namib Desert is thought to be the world's oldest desert. This age, and the accompanying iron oxidation of the sand, has created dunes which range from dull pink to brilliant orange. I found the color simply fascinating.

The dead-looking tree near the center of the painting was just what I wanted. Its shadows seem to dance on the orange dune.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

More Dunes

With these closer dunes I get to liven up the color relative to the most distant dune. At this size, it is difficult to see some of the color subtleties which are needed to have this block feel like sand. Some of the oil paints I used: quinacridone coral, cadmium red, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow, naples yellow, and titanium white. I also worked in some of the lighter purple shadow color from the background dune.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Star dunes

What fascinated me about the the Namib Desert were the star dunes. This type of dune, which has three or more arms, is formed from an environment which consistently has wind from multiple directions. The dunes typically are quite tall, angular, and mostly stationary.
In Namibia, the color and accompanying shadows from the sharp edges are a painter's dream.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Namib Desert

After looking at thousands of photos and playing with composition, I finally came up with my Namib Desert painting idea.
Below is my drawing with a raw sienna turpentine wash for values. The painting will be 26" X 44."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

25,000 photos

After a research/reference trip, I usually have lots of photo reference. With two cameras shooting in Africa, I came home with over 25,000 photos and videos.
How does one even start sorting through such a volume?

For years I have used Phase One Media Pro as my photo organizer. There are many on the market but I found this easy to use and the price reasonable. (and no, I do not work for them!)

My first step is to set up a catalog. For the Africa trip, I made a blank catalog with every bird, mammal,  and reptile that I saw listed under the catalog sets. I then import the photos which turn them into metafiles for quick and easy viewing. The original files are unchanged and from the catalog, it shows me the location of the original file.

Below is a screen shot of thumbnails.

Each thumbnail can be opened to the media size which fills the screen. From thumbnails and media viewing, I can see if I might want to include the image for reference when building a painting. At a later date, I'll start dragging images into the appropriate catalog set for quick and easy sorting of species and locations.
The 84.9 GB file of photos from one camera made a catalog of 1.8 GB
The 140 GB file of photos and videos from the other camera made a catalog of 1.4 GB.
The original images are untouched.
Even though the catalog images are much smaller, I can still see all the detail in the media size and have enough information to know if I want to look at the original photo.

That's all the technical stuff. How do I decide what to paint first?
I knew as soon as I saw them, they would be one of the first things I would paint. Namibia's Skeleton Coast star dunes.  Seeing them before and during sunrise was breathtaking. Mauves turned to pink to bright orange. I thought of sand dunes as boring flat yellow but the sharp edges of these dunes created brilliant purples and blues in the shadows. Wow. Add to that, probably my favorite antelope, gemsbok can call this place home. We saw them throughout this region.

Time to look at all the dune photos and every gemsbok photo. I'll also go back to my notebook filled with details. For good color reference, I might even have some sand still in my sneakers from climbing Dune 45!     ;)

Friday, August 10, 2018


Just returned from a 4-week trip to Africa. It was awesome and one of my favorite trips there. This time I returned to South Africa and Namibia.

I could fill up a couple of months' worth of blog posts with my experiences. From climbing Dune 45 in Namibia, to walking among thousands of Cape Fur seals at Cape Cross, to climbing 1000 feet to a remote cave to see 500 year-old Bushman grain pots, to watching three month-old lion triplets come with their mother to get a drink at a waterhole, it was a trip to remember.

How refreshing to have the time to let Africa seep into me again. Sitting quietly watching, listening, breathing in the air. There is no substitute. 

Linda descending Dune 45

Cape Fur seal colony

500+ year-old Bushman grain containers
Note the coat - it got below freezing in South Africa.